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New Shoes

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  77 reviews
From Sara Varon (Robot Dreams, Bake Sale) comes New Shoes, a heartwarming graphic novel about a donkey on a quest to make the perfect pair of shoes.

Francis the donkey is the best shoemaker in the village. He uses only the finest materials: coconut wood for the soles, goat's wool for the insoles, and wild tiger grass for the uppers.

One day he receives a special order from h
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by First Second
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3.88  · 
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Looks like somebody took a trip to Guyana, and couldn't wait to tell us about it - graphic novel style!


Francis the donkey lives in a small village in a South American jungle. His shoe-making skills are well known, and one day he's asked to make a special pair of shoes for his favorite singer - Miss Manatee. (Yeah. I know manatees don't exactly have feet. That's why she needs a VERY SPECIAL shoemaker like Francis to craft her footwear.)


But, Francis needs wild tiger grass to make the shoes, and h
Sara Varon never disappoints and this might be my favorite of her recent books. The book follows Francis, a donkey who makes shoes, as he tries to locate his friend and supplier after he's gone missing while collecting grass (for the shoes, natch.). Along the way, we see the sights, sounds, and creatures inhabiting the jungle.

When Francis discovers that his supplier has been stealing from private property, things get a little tricky.

Varon captures nature and ethics, while also delivering a gra
Carol Tilley
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Plenty of smiles here. I fell in love with Francis.
Natalie  Sapkarov Harvey
I love Sara Varon’s work. Her graphic novels have such wide elementary and middle grade appeal, and this new one is no exception. So many sweet little lessons. Can’t swim? Find someone who knows how and ask them to teach you! And make sure you repay them in some way. Going someplace new? Research the area so you know what you’re getting yourself into! Add in a quick primer on fair trade, animals and fruits of Guyana, and how to be a good friend. Ah. So lovely.

Oh and the back matter! The acknowl
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: children's books are not my usual fare but I have a 3 year-old-son and older nieces, so I am beginning to read more books targeting the younger set (but not always to them).

I highly enjoyed Sara Varon's Robot Dreams which led me to pick up this book. It's good and I enjoyed it but won't likely read any more of Varon's work until my son is old enough to appreciate her.

New Shoes is very colorful, easy to read and has bold artwork that isn't likely to overwhelm a younger reader. At
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Donkey, a cobbler, has been asked to designshoes for Miss Manatee, the famous calypso singer. When his supplier disappears, Donkey must go into the Amazon to look for him. Accompanying him on his journey, readers will learn about the floraand fauna found in the rainforest.
This is a super cute story about friendship, doing the right thing, and environmental sustainability -- with an added bonus of quick introductions to unique plants and animals. Adorable. :)
Hannah Garrett
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Both my 4 and 6 year old loooooved this book. I love when they’re learning without even realizing it.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Francis the Donkey is the best shoemaker in his village, using the finest materials to handcraft beautiful shoes. One day, he gets the most exciting news: his favorite calypso singer, Miss Manatee, is coming to sing in his village, and she wants him to create a special pair of new shoes just for her! He's so excited, but he's out of the special tiger grass that's integral to his shoe designs. He asks his friend and supplier, Nigel the Squirrel Monkey, to go into the jungle and get some more tige ...more
Becky B
Francis the shoemaker is known for the best shoes. He takes great pride in the high quality and fair trade materials he uses. When he gets an order from a famous singer, Francis is eager to get to work but his friend Nigel is late with his delivery of tiger grass. With his friend Rhoda’s help, Francis sets out into the South American jungle to find tiger grass himself and hopefully Nigel too.

I really enjoyed the South American setting for this book. That’s something new for Varon, and will be e
Mary Lee
Fun story with nonfiction elements about plants and animals from Guyana, South America (Amazon Rain Forest). Fascinating reference photos in the back matter.

It's also about sustainable locally-made products, and the interconnectedness of the aspects of a shoe-making business. It's about ethical business practices.

Quite a lot for a graphic novel about a donkey who makes shoes for other animals, eh?
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book! A great story that touches on ethical business practices, design challenges, nonfiction facts about jungle animals and more! I'm looking forward to sharing with students when it comes out.
Readers will enjoy how this charming story set in Guyana is told with some surprising twists, turns, and lessons. When Francis the donkey has the chance to make shoes for Miss Manatee, a talented calypso singer, he is thrilled. There's just one problem: He needs more tiger grass, an important ingredient in his shoes. When he goes to his friend Nigel, a monkey who usually supplies that ingredient, Nigel seems to have disappeared, and Francis has no choice but to travel through the jungle himself ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I sat down with my fresh library copy of New Shoes--fully prepared to have my heart ripped out--as that is normally how things go when reading a Varon piece. Her signature move is to create a whimsical world of amazing detail and then ninja attack you with underlying deep, poignant, heart splintering themes.
However, this book lacked that surprise sucker-punch.
Instead I was treated to a delightful tale of one shoe-making, adventurous, donkey living somewhere in South America. This book was more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sara Varon does kooky rather well, doesn't she? I mean, the main character is a donkey who builds fair trade shoes in Guyana and loves Calypso music. When his shoe grass source disappears after an order for shoes for the famous singer Miss Manatee comes in, Francis must venture into the jungle. It's never boring with Varon.

Francis decides to bring along of book of animals for his first venture into the jungle because "he didn't want to seem provincial if he ran into animals he'd not seen before.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A terrific graphic novel. (Not a super long book-I read it in one sitting. Almost a transitional graphic novel.) The setting is South America and the characters are all animals that do live there in real life. But these animals live in a little village and have jobs and wear clothes and such. Francis is a shoemaker of some high regard and he is thrilled when asked to make shoes for his favorite calypso performer Miss Manatee. Do I love calypso music? No. But every time anyone listened to music i ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Very cute and happy story about a donkey who must get the best type of grass to make shoes. He has a special client Ms. Manatee who he needs to make special shoes for. His monkey friend always gets him his grass but one day goes missing and does not come back. Donkey goes on adventure to find his friend. Along the way, Donkey discovers the nature and animals who live in the South American jungle. Readers learn facts about each animal that lives in the jungle which makes for a nice mix of fiction ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was so cute! I loved the simple illustrations and I think children will especially love them too. I really liked seeing all the different animals and learn about the native plants and whatnot she included in the backgrounds! And the story had such good morals too - when Francis gets the job to make shoes for his favorite recording artist but soon finds out that his friend Nigel has been captured, I loved the line about there being more important things than making shoes! Some of the morals ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the cutest book I've read this year! Francis the Donkey has been asked to make shoes for Miss Manatee--a famous calypso singer--but he's all out of tiger grass! Where is Nigel the Squirrel Monkey, his tiger grass supplier? Francis and Rhoda the Parrot go on a quest through the jungle to find him and get the grass before Miss Manatee's concert. Francis and Rhoda solve problems and meet other animals along the way. The pictures are lively and colorful and depict lots of different animals F ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
A very fun graphic novel suitable for the whole family. My wife got this book because she thought everyone in our family would enjoy it. I think she was right! The detail shown in the pictures of the flora and fauna in the Amazon basin is very enjoyable. I learned that cashew's are really just one small part of the plan and that there is a whole fruit above the nut which the book claims tastes delicious! I would like to try that food some day. I also really enjoyed how the problems in this book ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-18
Why isn’t there an option for six stars? Bake Sale is one of my all-time favorite graphic novels and this is a close second. Francis the donkey is a shoemaker. He does what he loves and makes the other animals very happy with his beautiful shoes. He has great friends and a comfortable routine.

Then something happens to shake up his supply chain (the special shoes are made of coconut wood, sheep’s wool, and wild tiger grass) and Francis must journey into the jungle where he’s never been. This is
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The best part are the illustrations. The animals are very cute and the background is interesting. There are many animals that are identified in the illustrations that are just there as a part of the rain forest. I love the fact that Francis takes a couple of reference books with him on his journey because he is aware that he doesn't know everything. Then he uses the books! The author includes photos that she took as reference for her illustrations.
I can see several of my 5th
Francis S. Poesy
A colorful and passively educational book that I'm sure children will find fun, funny, interesting,and enchanting. At times I wanted the action to pick up the pace and for there to be more conflict/drama but I don't think that is really what the author wanted to put across, so I can respect that. I enjoyed the illustrations, especially in town with all the extra activities and characters. Also, the back matter about the writing of the book was interesting and should appeal to those kids who want ...more
Penny Olson
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My second grader and I loved reading Sara Varon's New Shoes. We took turns reading the pages. It is a graphic novel/picture book about a shoemaker donkey called Francis who lives in a village in Guyana. He runs into a problem with a shortage of material for a very important customer's order, and must venture into the jungle and out of his comfort zone to solve the problem. There are some great themes of adventure, creativity, friendship and doing the right thing. The jungle setting makes the boo ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
New Shoes is a fantastic book that explores the ideas of fair trade, business ethics and creative footwear. It also give a little insight into the different types of animals who live in the jungle. New Shoes not only teaches but also inspires the reader to take an adventure and try something new. It is sweet and insightful. This graphic novel will be interesting to a wide range of readers from Children to Adults.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, comics, kids-j
Francis the shoemaker is on a mission, to make the best pair of shoes ever, for his favorite singer! Alas, Nigel the monkey, an essential supplier, is nowhere to be found! Francis must gather the courage to take on the jungle himself, in order to rescue Nigel, and craft the coolest shoes known to manatees.
A colorful comic about the jungle, teamwork, bravery, and accessibility, also reminding us that the things we wear connect us to other places and people.
Surprisingly sweet. The illustrations are colorful and bright and the layout pulls you right in to the story. The story itself is simple: Francis makes shoes and gets a commission from a famous singer, but his supply line is compromised and he must discover where his fiber source has gotten to. There's questions of ethical sourcing of materials, trying new things, making shoes for those with different needs, and in the back are the source photos that inspired the illustrations.

Wendy Garland
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, graphic-novel
Graphic novel fans will celebrate that Sara Varon his created another adventure for readers. This time Francis the donkey must leave his village for the first time and journey into the jungle to get the tiger grass he needs to make a very important pair of shoes. The adventure becomes complicated when he realizes he is also on a rescue mission.
Ruth Anne
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel, 2019
An enchanting story of donkey Francis the shoemaker who has to go to new adventures to make shoes for a very special celebrity. Accompanied by the bird, Rhoda, and a few traveling supplies, they make their way into the jungle in search of the special tiger grass needed for new shoes. Told in a graphic novel format with cartoon like illustrations, this title is perfect for 3rd and 4th graders.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I'm always happy to read a Sara Baron book. I love the illustrative style and the very casual easygoing storytelling. It tends to be very feel-good type stuff. I appreciate the care she took here to study reference photos and just be very passionate about the animals and the plant life. Looking forward to seeing what she comes out with next.
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